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Ryan Vachon excels on the steep, physical ice and mixed climbs found around his home in Boulder, Colorado. As a climate scientist he has more than a passing interest in the medium, but is far from being exclusively an ice climber.

Ryan had his first taste of climbing in the late 1980s scrambling around in a far corner of Massachusetts on the sharp end of his mother’s old clothesline. After his uncle, an old-school Outward Bound character, upgraded his rope to a goldline (notoriously hard to use and very stretchy), regular trips to the trad climbing heaven of Cathedral Ledge in New Hampshire became a part of life.

Although a strong interest in mountain bike racing developed, steep ice and granite were never far away, with classics such as The Black Dyke (NEI5-) and Beast 666 (5.11+) climbed and an expedition to Bolivia. However it was only after moving to Colorado to do postgraduate work that the climbing really took off. Spending two weeks at high altitude in Peru, drilling ice core for climate research, proved a seminal moment in Ryan’s relationship with mountains.

“No better way to bond with great people than to get stuck into science on the top of beautiful mountains.”

In 2012 he had another epiphany visiting Vail’s super steep mixed routes for the first time. Since then he has truly mastered this style and embraced Jeff Mercier‘s DTS philosophy

Notable Ascents

  • Jedi Mind Tricks, (M13), Canyon City - Second spurless ascent
  • Redbeard (M11+), Vail - First traditionally protected ascent of a route of the grade (final ice was missing)
  • Circling Sharks (M8+ 200m), Rocky Mountain National Park - First ascent
  • Californication (5.13-), Little Si, WA
  • StratoFortress (in reverse) (M13), Vail - Flash, French DTS
  • Mustang (M14-), Vail - French DTS